Doug Ford Takes A Swing At The Most Vulnerable – Low-Income Students

Doug Ford is back at it again, leaving arguably the most vulnerable with less. Yesterday morning, Ford announced that there would be several cutbacks to the Ontario Student Assistance Program, as well as cutting tuition by ten percent. It seems as though the Ford government is looking to undo things that were put in place by the Liberal party simply for the sake of that, without evaluating the effects it may have.

OSAP funding will be reverting back to the 2016-2017 funding model, which means that low income students in the $30,000 or less per year income bracket, will not have tuition covered through grants anymore, as well as reducing the amount of grants received by those in higher income brackets. The cap for OSAP will once again be lowered from $170,000 per year to $140,000. This also comes with the elimination of the six month grace period, in which students have six months to pay back their loans, interest free, meaning that students will be charged interest on their loans, from the moment they graduate. Furthermore, students will now have to be out of high school for six years, as opposed to the original four, to be considered independent from their parents, and have their OSAP funding be based on the students income.

As for the ten percent tuition drop, this cost is expected to be absorbed by the universities themselves, through cuts to services available to student. Also, students will now have the opportunity to opt out of extra fees associated with their costs of tuition, like student union fees and others that the government deems non-essential. As students opt out of paying these fees, student governments and unions that are democratically elected to improve student life on campus will be left with little to no funding. This creates difficulty in these groups organising workshops to help students network and get jobs, as well as social events to help with stress and mental health problems, like having therapy dogs come in before the exam period to help everyone de-stress.

Many students in Weston come from low-income households, which makes post-secondary education that much more unattainable. Our MPP, Faisal Hassan, is a member of the New Democrats, who campaigned for free tuition for Ontario students. To express how you feel about these changes, you can call Hassan’s office at 416-243-7984. For more information on this, follow this link to be taken to the Government of Ontario Website.

Weston CI Pool closed

Registration for City of Toronto winter programs is always tight, but it’s likely to get tighter.  There will be no swimming lessons or other aquatic programming at the Weston CI pool until next year.

The pool is closed for repairs until the spring of 2019.

Image from the city

Mental Health Awareness in Weston for Men’s Mental Health Month

Movember is a term that was coined in 2004, though the first events with this name did not begin until 2007. Movember is a movement designed to bring awareness to men’s health issues like prostate cancer and mental health issues. There is an advertisement for this organization on the north-east corner of Church and Jane, which you may have seen. With the focus of this month being on mental health in men, it is a good time to brush up on the services available to us in Weston.

Within Weston itself, there are no mental health services that pop-up on Google, but this does not mean that residents do not have a need for it. Mental health issues like depression and anxiety are on the rise, especially with adolescents. According to the CAMH website, 34% of high school students report feeling moderate to severe levels of psychological distress, which is a symptom of anxiety and depression, and by the age of 40, 50% of people will have had or have a mental illness.  Many people who experience these illnesses do not seek help as they either do not have access to it or are worried about what those around them may say, as there is a large stigma surrounding mental illness. This month is a good time to remind ourselves and those around us that mental illness is normal and that we are loved.

Looking online can provide those with mental illness with good coping techniques, but it is best to see your doctor if you feel you may be suffering. There are options. Some services in the area surrounding Weston include Etobicoke Psychological Services, The Etobicoke Children’s Centre and the Family Association for Mental Health Everywhere (FAME). Students can also turn to guidance counsellors within their school, as they can be given the accommodations they need. If you or someone you know is suffering from mental illness, there are options for you to get the help you need.

Ontario Consults Parents On Their Children’s Futures

Following up with my last story on the Ontario health education curriculum, there has been an update. The Ontario Government has now launched their website to consult with parents about different curricula throughout Ontario. Their website states that they will be addressing concerns such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs, job skills, specifically relating to skilled trade and coding, teaching students valuable life skills like financial literacy, use of technology in classrooms, improving standardised tests (ie. EQAO), a new health education curriculum as well as developing a Parents’ Bill of Rights. The health ed curriculum has been a hot topic of debate since it was implemented and more recently when it was rolled back to 1997 by the Ford Government. Some parents welcomed this return to the old curriculum because they felt that it would be best to tech students certain aspects as home, when they feel appropriate, while others saw this as an attack on student knowledge and a return to the stone-age, so to speak. This web page allows for every voice to be heard, but not only about health education.

STEM programs are growing in many schools and there are summer and march break camps being offered in this field, as many people feel this is the future of the job market. They are also asking for feedback on managing cellphones in classrooms, which is an increasing phenomenon among students; it seems that every other child at the age of 6 or higher has a cellphone or tablet and nearly every student in middle school has one somewhere on their person. The most intriguing issue that they are looking to address and get feedback on is the addition of skills like financial literacy into the curriculum. This could be as basic as teaching students the value of money to something as complicated as investing or doing your own taxes, which can give students more confidence when faced with these important decisions.

You can participate by following the link https://www.ontario.ca/page/for-the-parents. Open submissions are open. You can choose to fill out a private online form through their link or email your submissions to [email protected] with the subject line “Provincial Consultations” by including your name and attaching your submission as a PDF or Word Document. There will also be an online survey and a telephone town hall to come.

Back to School, Back to 1998

School is back in session, and these first few weeks have surely been hectic as parents and students get back in the groove of the scholastic year. Teachers have also had to get back in the swing of things with not only new students but a new curriculum, or should I say old. Before this school year started, the Ford government rolled back the sex ed curriculum to that of 1998, scrapping the 2015 version for a “new” version that is to be released in the future, once more consulting is done with parents and teachers. The old curriculum fails to include conversations about cyber bullying and consent, among a few other things. Curriculum nights are coming up for most schools, it may be worth having a chat with your child’s teacher and asking them what they intend to teach. TDSB and TCDSB trustees have made statements that they will be following the 2015 curriculum, but it never hurts to be certain about what is being taught.

Children today are not children from twenty years ago. They are surrounded every day by technology and media, much of which we as adults have a hard time sifting through. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other social media sites are easily accessible, especially when it appears every other child has a smart device.  If the Ontario Government feels it is essential to roll back changes, it may be time to have a serious look at what our children are being taught and put in our two cents. You can access both versions of the curriculum on the government of Ontario website or through a simple google search, if you would like to have a look for yourself.

Hussen announces summer jobs

Yesterday at Frontlines,  Ahmed Hussen announced 290 summer jobs for Toronto’s at-risk youth. These jobs are in addition to 5700 government-subsidized jobs across the city.

44 jobs are listed today within the riding on the government job bank, including at FoodShare, the LEF, the MDCA, and and the WKNC.

 

A few spaces available at UrbanArts

Let’s face it: you blew it if you left your summer camp search til now. Still, UrbanArts has your back.  UrbanArts has your back, and there are a few spots available for their SummerArts camp.

I also happen to know, ahem, that they’re not the least bit judgy about being late to apply.